General Information (Q&A's)

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What is Grief?

A. Grief is the natural emotional response to the loss of someone close, such as a family member or friend. Grief can also occur after a serious illness, a divorce or other significant losses. Grief often involves intense sadness, and sometimes feelings of shock and numbness, or even denial and anger.

Is Grief the Same for Everyone?

A. No. Each person is unique and everyone grieves differently. What may help for one person may not help for another. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

How Long is it Okay to Grieve a Loved One?

A. Healing happens over time. There is no “normal” timetable for grieving.

Will this Feeling of Grief Ever go Away?

A. You will always be grieving because you will always love the child you lost. There will be many highs and lows during the grieving process and the most difficult times in the beginning will become less intense as time goes by. Over time I promise you will begin to feel better and be able to move forward in life with your loss and even find joy again.

What are the 5 Stage of Grief?

A. Denial (“This can’t be happening”), Anger (“Why is this happening? Who do I blame?”), Bargaining (“Please let him live, and in return I will…”), Depression (“I’m too sad to do anything”), and Acceptance (“I’m at peace with what happened).

Will I go Through the 5 Stages of Grief in Order?

A. No. Everyone is different. Some may go through each of these stages in their grief process while others may experience only a few stages. You may move on from one stage and then experience it again during your grief process. Each of us are unique as is our grieving experience and although these stages are usual responses to loss, everyone will experience them differently.

What are the Symptoms of Grief I or My Family Member may Experience During this Process?

A. Each person is different and will have different experiences but some emotions after the loss of a loved one include: Shock and disbelief, Sadness, Guilt, Fear, and Anger. Some physical symptoms may include: Fatigue, Nausea, Lowered Immunity, Weight loss or gain, Aches and Pains, and Insomnia.

How Can I Support Myself in the Grieving Process?

A. Don’t isolate yourself from others. Even if you don’t feel like talking about your loss, just being around friends and family can provide comfort. Talk about your emotions and loss to those you feel most comfortable with that will not provide judgement. Speak about your child and your story. Join a support group or seek individuals that went through a similar experience that can relate to your grief. Seek help from a therapist or grief counselor if your grief feels like too much to bear.

What Ways Can I Care for Myself Physically and Emotionally During the Pain of My Loss?

A. Don’t avoid the grief process. To begin healing you must face your feelings. If you try to avoid feeling pain you will just be delaying this process and healing. Express your feelings through writing or drawing (you can write to yourself in the future, to someone else, or to God). Try to maintain hobbies and interests that bring you comfort and look after your physical health. Walking or running outdoors can help you clear your head and make you feel better physically. Plan ahead for grief “triggers” such as anniversaries, holidays, or milestones that can bring up painful memories and feelings. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you how to feel. The grief process is your own and however you are feeling in that moment is okay. There is no “moving on” or “getting over it.”

How Can I Help a Loved One or Friend Through Their Grief?

A. Understand grieving is unique to each person. What may help or have helped you may not be helpful to your loved one. Call them to check in regularly. Bring them food. Share their sorrow by allowing them to talk about their feelings and sharing memories of their child. Don’t offer false comfort and unless your loved one asks for advice do not give it. Offer practical help such as baby-sitting, cooking, running errands, or mowing the lawn. Give them a choice rather than saying “Let me know if you need anything.” Be patient and don’t assume your loved one will feel better in a few months, a year, or more. Check in with them to let them know you are thinking of them and always reach out during holidays or anniversaries. Lastly, keep them in your life and if your loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or seems unable to cope alone, encourage professional help.

How Can I Help a Child that Experiences the Loss of a Sibling in the Grief Process?

A. Children experience grief differently than adults. Losing a loved one affects their sense of security or survival. As a parent, angry outbursts or criticism only deepens a child’s anxiety and delays recovery. Talk honestly with children, in terms they can understand. Take time to talk with them about death and the sibling who has died. Help them work through their feelings and remember that they are looking to adults for suitable behavior.

What CAN I SAY to a Person that loses a Child?

A. Offer sincere condolences such as “I am so sorry for your loss”. Let them know “I’m here for you, now and always.” Offer the grieving person a choice of numerous chores you can provide so they can focus on themselves during this time. Offer silence. Just being with the person provides comfort and allows them to share their feelings and stories when they feel comfortable. When the time is right, express what the deceased child meant to you and share a memory with the parent. Being present and available to a grieving parent is what is most important.

What SHOULDN'T I SAY to a Person that Loses a Child?

A. Knowing what not to say to a parent that loses a child is very important. Even if you are trying to comfort the parent and believe what you say is true, it may be hurtful and unhelpful to the grieving parent. DO NOT say you know how the bereaved parent feels. Even if you too lost someone you love, each of us feels and grieves differently. DO NOT say “At least you have your other children”, “You can always have other children”, or “It could be worse.” How could anything be worse than losing a child? Put yourself in their shoes. Would you be okay if you lost one of your children just because you have more or you have the capability to have more? Never assume it is easy for others to have a baby. Many people struggle for years to get pregnant. DO NOT say “It must have been for the best”, “Everything happens for a reason”, “God needed another Angel in Heaven”, or “It was God’s will.” None of these are helpful to a grieving parent and that parent may also be questioning their own faith at the moment. Don’t assume others share your beliefs. DO NOT say “He/She is in a better place” or “At least he/she is no longer suffering.” This does not provide comfort as what better place can the child be but still here with their parents. DO NOT trivialize the parents’ story by telling own of your own. This is their time to grieve. Keep the focus on them. DO NOT say “You need to move on”, “You should be better by now” or “You need to get over this already”. Never mention a timeline for grief or speak to the stages of grief. Grief doesn’t follow a timeline or move through predictable stages. Each persons’ grieving process is unique and should never be questioned. DO NOT say “Let me know if you need anything.” Provide suggestions on how you can help and let the grieving person choose. If the person knows what you are willing to do they are more likely to accept the help. Lastly, don’t try to make “things” better. All you can do to help is to be there for the grieving person and listen without judgement while they adjust to their loss.

**If you are having suicidal thoughts or need help please call:

1-800-662-HELP(4357) or dial 988 for 24/7, 365 day support.